- Director: Angelo Madsen Minax
By the time all the facts are revealed and the credits roll, there are so many 'whys' - none of them are answered.
The biggest 'why' is...why would you want to trash your own family, your sister especially? Because, this is an absolute hatchet job. So much so...if Social Services were to see this, Jesse [the filmmaker's sister] will probably have her children taken from her. The evidence is all here - documented and exhibited by her sibling.
It is for this reason that no review of this film will be forthcoming. But...ethical filmmaking and the moral responsibilities of filmmakers are issues that need to be raised, be made aware of...and, adhered to.
One person's catharsis can be an other person's condemnation. Discuss.
Three years after the unexplained death of his niece Kalla, artist and filmmaker Angelo Madsen Minax returns to his Mormon family’s home in the small town in Michigan where his father’s sawmill is located. His sister Jesse, who had found temporary stability as a mother after a difficult youth and addiction problems, is suspected by the authorities of being responsible, along with her partner David, for the death of their daughter Kalla. While Jesse struggles with her trauma and depression, her mother gradually opens up to the camera. Everything is brought out into the open during emotional discourses including, time and again, the filmmaker’s transition which has been the cause of much upheaval in the family.
The distances the filmmaker covers on long car journeys to his family are emblematic of the slow process of rapprochement. The chronology of their meetings is enriched by home video footage and voiceover dialogue with Kalla’s imagined spirit. A personal essay that spans a broad arc, negotiating the topics of depression, domestic violence, motherhood and transgender masculinity in what turns out to be cathartic family therapy.